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The Team to Beat: Man City head into the festive season as Premier League favourites

11:58 AM EST 12/16/21
Manchester City Leeds celebrate Premier League
The reigning champions look even stronger for the upcoming season and appear set to retain their crown

The Premier League races into the festive period this season with the very real prospect of a proper three-horse title race for the first time in years.

As we approach the halfway point of the campaign, there’s little to separate Man City from Chelsea and Liverpool.

But still reigning champions City are clear favourites with the bookies at -138, well clear of their nearest rivals.

Tuesday’s emphatic, 7-0 demolition of Leeds United made it seven straight Premier League wins for Pep Guardiola’s men, who have certainly had no trouble find the net this season.

City’s long and ultimately unsuccessful bid to snare Harry Kane from Tottenham left them with just a single recognised centre-forward in the squad, so they’ve instead once again spread the goals out among the team.

Bernardo Silva has hit the form of his life and leads the way with seven. Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden have chipped in three a piece in the Premier League and Raheem Sterling, back in the side, has started firing, helping himself to four.

“I am a player that likes to feel that they can help their team and I am really grateful to have this run in the side so I can do just that,” Sterling revealed.

Moreover, City still have the meanest defence in the league, with last season’s Football Writers’ Player of the Year Ruben Dias still in imperious form.

The big Portuguese stopper’s arrival has been one of the club’s most transformative under Pep Guardiola, rendering City’s previous defensive concerns a thing of the past.

And while City are yet to see anywhere near the best of their £100 million man, Jack Grealish, the positive for Pep is that an upturn in form from the former Villa man is likely and that would be a massive boost to a team already look set to dominate the division.

“Grealish doesn’t have to do anything different. The way he’s playing is good. It will come, absolutely no problem,” insists Pep. “All he has to do is play and feel like he knows what he has to do. He has to do exactly what he is doing. No more than that. The rest is coming in time. He has chances to score goals every game and one day he is going to do it.”

As for the contenders, Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp will be concerned by the upcoming African Cup of Nations which will rob the Reds of Naby Keita, Sadio Mane and, in Mo Salah, probably the form player in world football.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have suffered something of blip in recent weeks, particularly at the back where a number of defensive lapses have seen them conceded at an alarming rate this month.

The return of N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic should help tighten things up a bit at the back of the midfield, but nonetheless coach Thomas Tuchel has cause for concern right now, particularly as the form of big-money striker Romelu Lukaku remains a problem.

City are, without doubt, the team to beat.

Manchester City are favourites to win the Premier League with SBD.